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Public Housing

Housing SA is South Australia's public housing authority which delivers housing related services through a network of regional offices throughout the State. Part of the Department of Human Services, Housing SA incorporates the former South Australian Housing Trust, Aboriginal Housing Authority and South Australian Community Housing Authority.

Public housing is targeted to those people in most need. To be eligible applicants must meet a range of criteria including an income and assets test and/or a needs test.


South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA)


Telephone: 131 299

Telephone lines are open from 8.30 am – 5.30 pm Monday to Friday

Callers outside South Australia

Telephone: 8207 0211

Tenants' Information and Advocacy Service (TIAS)

Provides free independent support to tenants in the public, private and community rental markets. Includes tenants in private rental properties and clients of Housing SA, the Aboriginal Housing Services, Housing Associations and Cooperatives. Support includes advocacy on tenancy issues such as tenancy rights and responsibilities, application processses for private and

public rental, neighbourhood disputes, evictionsbond assistance, complaints, debt and home purchase.

Telephone: 1800 060 462

The waiting list

As demand for Housing SA housing is very high there is a waiting list for people applying for housing and for current Housing SA tenants requesting a transfer. The waiting list is divided into four categories, with applications placed into the category which best reflects the urgency of housing need:

  • Category 1: applicants in urgent need of housing (e.g. homeless) and are unable to access private rental housing options. Housing SA tenants who have urgent reasons for requiring relocation may also be placed in this category.
  • Category 2: applicants who have high housing needs and who face long term barriers to accessing other housing options. Housing SA tenants whose current housing is unsuitable in the long term may also be placed in this category.
  • Category 3: applicants who pass the income and assets test but do not have a high housing need (as per Categories 1 or 2).
  • Category 4: Housing SA tenants requesting a transfer to another Housing SA property for personal preference reasons.

Housing SA's stock of housing in some localities is limited, which can mean longer waiting times for those areas.

An applicant’s refusal of a second offer of housing will result in their application being deferred for two years, reverting to the bottom of the category or being moved into another category on the waiting list.


Housing SA is required to set rents at market levels, which are determined by reference to the Valuer General. However, reduced or rebated rents are provided for low income households to ensure affordability.

Every Housing SA home has a full rent set which is the maximum rent that may be charged for that home. The full rent of a property is based on the market rate and this is reviewed each year. Tenants who cannot afford the market rate pay a reduced amount.

Tenants who pay reduced rents are required to provide Housing SA with proof of their income on a regular basis, and reduced rents are adjusted in line with increases in income.

Tenancy issues

While most conditions for Housing SA tenancies are governed by the South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA) some sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) also apply. These sections specifically relate to matters such as eviction, quiet enjoyment of premises and security of dwellings.

Some relevant sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) that apply to Housing SA tenants are:

  • how the Tribunal hears and mediates disputes [pt 3]
  • relating to locks and security of premises [s 66]
  • behaviour of tenants, see: unacceptable conduct by a tenant [ss 71 and 90]
  • dealing with possession orders and the enforcement of those orders [ss 93 and 99]
  • termination of tenancy on application by landlord [s 87]

Most importantly, where problems and disputes arise, matters are heard by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).


Conditions of tenancy

Housing SA requires each tenant to read and sign a standard 'Conditions of Tenancy' form before moving into the home. This is a contract which binds both Housing SA and the tenant to observe a clearly stated set of responsibilities.

Housing SA requires each new tenant to undergo two six month probationary periods prior to being given permanent tenancy.

Although Housing SA tenancies are not subject to all of the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) the conditions of tenancy in Housing SA housing are broadly consistent with those applying in private sector tenancies and, where possible, Housing SA complies with the spirit of the Act.

Maintenance and repairs

Housing SA will normally carry out and pay for repairs resulting from fair wear and tear. It is important that tenants notify the Maintenance Centre as soon as any repair is needed.

Housing SA carries out external painting to its rental homes usually every eight years. Tenants who ask are given paint for interior decoration every eighth year of tenancy. This may be carried out by Housing SA if there are medical or social reasons why it cannot be done by the tenant.

The tenant must pay the cost of any repairs which, in Housing SA's opinion, are not the result of fair wear and tear. The tenant is also responsible for keeping the dwelling in good rentable condition. This means that the tenant must pay the cost of repairs to damaged windows, screens, fences and gates, of clearing blocked drains and of replacing plugs, light globes or lost keys. Where damage is caused by the tenant's family or visitors Housing SA will also require the tenant to pay.

Tenants may wallpaper interior walls, lay floor coverings and hang pictures. However, the tenant must repair any damage caused by doing these things. Trust officers are available to advise tenants on appropriate methods and materials. The tenant must have Housing SA's approval before making any additions or alterations to the premises.

More information on maintenance and repairs is available from Housing SA, via the website.

Changing accommodation

If Housing SA considers that the accommodation provided to a tenant is no longer appropriate to the tenant's needs it can ask the tenant to transfer to a more appropriate dwelling. In this situation Housing SA always tries to find accommodation that the tenant agrees is more suitable.

A tenant who has been living in their present home for at least three years can apply for a transfer to a vacant dwelling. Housing SA may approve a Category 1 or 2 transfer where the tenant has an urgent need for a transfer or where their current accommodation is unsuitable in the long term. More information is available from Housing SA via the website.

Housing SA also operates a scheme through which approved tenants can exchange houses, but this will only be approved if the dwellings involved are appropriate to the needs of the exchanging tenants. Tenants approved for an exchange must also accept responsibility for the costs of any necessary repairs on their present home that are not the result of wear and tear. More information on tenant exchanges is available from Housing SA (see Transfers and Relocations under the Public Housing section of the website).

Ending a tenancy

Housing SA may end a tenancy if the tenant:

  • fails to pay the rent, or any other debt equal to or greater than one weeks rent, within fourteen days of the payment's due date;
  • makes an incorrect statement in the application for tenancy or in response to any inquiry made by Housing SA (whether deliberately or accidentally);
  • fails to comply with any of the conditions of tenancy.

Housing SA sends an officer to discuss any problems with the tenant before formal action to terminate the tenancy is commenced. A tenant who discovers that he or she has made an incorrect statement in the application for tenancy should write to Housing SA correcting the error.

If the problem cannot be resolved, Housing SA will write to the tenant giving fourteen days notice and the tenant must leave the premises by the end of that time. If the tenant has not left, Housing SA can take action through the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT), see Unacceptable conduct by a tenant.

More information is available from Housing SA via the website.

Intervention orders and terminating a tenancy

Where an intervention order has been issued against a tenant for the protection of a person who normally resides at Housing SA premises or where a tenant has committed domestic abuse against a person who normally resides at the premises, the tenancy can be terminated [Residential Tenancies Act 1995 (SA) s 89A(2)]. Alternatively, the tenancy can be terminated and replaced with a new one without the alleged perpetrator of the domestic abuse as a party. Orders can also be made to determine liability for any damage caused as a result of an incident of domestic abuse and to refund the bond accordingly.

Applications must be made to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT). See 'Resolving Disputes'.


Housing SA clients may apply for review of decisions made in relation to their tenancy to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).

What decisions can be appealed?

SA Housing decisions that can be appealed include:

  • Rental applications (including Housing Needs Assessments)
  • Debts (e.g. maintenance charges, rent arrears)
  • Tenancy matters such as transfers, rent assessment and probationary tenancies
  • Maintenance requests (e.g. disability modifications, floor coverings, removal of trees)
  • Bond and rent assistance
  • Home purchases

The Unit may recommend that the original decision be overturned if it is satisfied that the decision has not been made in line with Housing SA policy.

What things cannot be appealed?

The appeal process does not deal with:

  • disputes between neighbours
  • evictions for rent arrears (see Ending a tenancy)
  • government policy
  • complaints about SA Housing staff

Time frames for lodging an appeal

Appeals can be lodged at any stage. However, decisions made before 1991 cannot be appealed.

How do I make an appeal?

You will need to complete and lodge a Public Housing Appeal Form. You should attach any supporting documents you believe will demonstrate your case.

Overview of the appeals process

There are two stages of review for public housing appeals.

1st stage : Internal Review

A review is conducted by three Housing SA officers including the original decision maker, a Manager (of either a region or division) and a Review Officer [see South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA) s 32C].

2nd stage : Independent Review

This consists of a hearing by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal which is independent of Housing SA [see South Australian Housing Trust Act 1995 (SA) s 32D].

Who can help with my appeal?

Tenants' Information and Advocacy Service (TIAS)

Provides free independent support to tenants on low incomes in the public, private and community rental markets. Support includes advocacy on tenancy issues such as tenancy rights and responsibilities, application processses for private and

public rental, disputes, debts, evictions, and appeals processes.

Telephone: 1800 060 462


Special housing programs


This program provides residential accommodation for lease to incorporated, non-profit community organisations and Government departments and agencies. Properties made available are from Housing SA's 'general stock' for use by organisations who act as 'head tenants'. These organisations typically attract crisis accommodation funding, such as women's shelters, youth housing, half-way houses for alcoholic rehabilitation, refugee resettlement programs and homeless people's hostels. The accommodation provided is generally short-term.


This program is similar to the Supported Tenancy Scheme in providing accommodation for lease to a number of agencies with a focus on housing people with disabilities. These agencies also provide ongoing support for those with an intellectual disability, a physical/neurological disability and with a mental illness. The accommodation provided is generally long term and often has been purpose built. Housing SA will also consider modifying houses for individual tenants where they, or a member of their family, have a disability.


For information on housing options for young people see Housing Options for Young People and Students on the website.

Private rental assistance

Some financial assistance (for bonds, rent in advance and rent in arrears) is available to households renting in the private rental market . More information about this assistance is available from Housing SA via the website.

    Public Housing  :  Last Revised: Fri Mar 31st 2017
    The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.